Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Babies Are Funny

We are in a Golden Age of baby-based humor. The mere appearance of baby is enough to elicit a smile from all but the most cold-hearted of adults, so put a baby on screen and you’re halfway to a laugh. Babies are wide-eyed innocents, perfect patsies for our childish pranks and perversions.

Perhaps the epitome of the current enthusiasm for exploiting infants for laughs can be found in The Hangover, the number one movie at the box office for two weeks running.
Although I generally found the movie unfunny and unimaginative, the scene in which Zach Galafianakis manipulates the baby’s arm to suggest a certain private male act had me cracking up even after leaving the theater. This juxtaposition of complete innocence and crude vulgarity is a recipe for comedy gold.

For a more toned down version of this, refer to the famous “E-Trade Baby” commercials, which first aired during the Super Bowl. Few commercials are as widely liked as those featuring this savvy toddler, with the slurred, nasal voice of a 30-something hipster. Again, combining the baby’s natural movements and expressions with sharp, sophisticated dialogue ¬has very humorous results.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Beyond Hollywood and Madison Avenue, on the unlimited expanses of the internet, one finds countless examples of cute babies turned into comedic showpieces. The #4 most-viewed video ever on You-Tube is Charlie Bit My Finger, featuring two brothers, one of whom, you guessed it, bites the other. There are also several popular videos of babies laughing. Hahaha is #11 all-time, and The Evil Look and its many copies have tens of millions of views. Another, “Blood,” shows a concerned toddler pointing out blood to his parents, and growing increasingly frustrated with their unexpected reaction.

Anther popular internet meme is the Funny Photoshopped Baby Face, which is simple a picture of an evil-looking baby who has been digitally given all sorts of costumes, from Hitler to Shrek.

Parents have always been entertained by their adorable offspring, but it is only recently they have gotten the chance to share these moments with the world. As long as they remain cute and helpless, babies will continue to be playthings for grown-ups. I only hope that people do not abuse their power, but allow society’s only unadulterated members to enjoy their precious pre-conscious years in peace.

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